This volume offers a concerted set of studies on the impact of the Law 1920/XXV often recognised as aiming essentially to curb the high representation of Jews in Hungarian higher education.
Our book is indirectly the outcome of two motivations. On the one hand a large scale survey, funded by the European Research Council (ERC) in the years 2009-2012, has provided ample information on the ethnic-confessional composition of the student population before and after 1919 in Hungary, allowing an objectivist evaluation of the academic impact of the numerus clausus. On the other hand a memorial conference was organised by the Holocaust Museum in Budapest to remember the 90th anniversary of this extraordinary act of legislative infamy enacted by the 'Christian Course' Parliament. Most of the authors of this book participated in the conference. They were individually invited to contribute on the strength of their special expertise and original research results in this matter - in part directly deriving from the ERC project.
The relevance of our book for contemporary history writing, recently enriched with a number of topical studies, can be illustrated by the difficulties experienced by the conveners of this conference to publish the proceedings of the event. The papers presented at the scholarly gathering organised in November 2010 by and in the premises of the Budapest Holocaust Museum at Páva street were, after a forceful change of direction in the Museum, not allowed to be published at all, especially not under the aegis of this state institution. The publication could be finally realised by the initial conveners, after much tergiversation, thanks to private means and the support of the contributors involved. The numerus clausus appears to be such a controversial issue even nowadays, that its souvenir is still regarded by many - especially decision makers in contemporary Hungarian cultural politics - as worth to be covered by a generous forgetfulness rather than analysed by means of advanced socio-historical scholarship. The recognition of the results of such analysis would indeed disturb the idillic clemency with which the epoque - concluded by the Shoah and another defeat in a desastrous war entailing the loss of close to one tenth of the country's population - is nowadays considered in official hindsight, as objectivated in its symbolic policies.